I have just published a book and the excitement of having it distributed is great. This has been a long awaited process finally bearing fruit and lending itself to public consumption. Good reviews have trickled in so far and those, they can be quite elating. But with equal measure remarks have followed that have ranged from harsh and sometimes disheartening. Critics are present, alive and kicking well. In the midst of making art we get aimed at both pleasantly and unpleasantly sometimes with deep sour distaste. If this sounds familiar I have some picks on how to deal with this necessary landmark in the creative process.
Know Your Art
It is a requirement in the making of art that we are familiar not just with our artistic process but also our expected vision of art. Our audience always receives the tail end of our efforts but in their assessment of our art they may not include the journey to production of that art. There are as many eyes as there are opinions of your art. Each piece of art made carries with it a miniature vision and expected end. So you must know your art. What was the idea, where is it leading to, what is needed for you to bring it out, have you succeeded in doing so? These parameters drive us to artistic honesty. A well-carried craftsman knows deep inside that he cannot countenance his own lies. Knowing your art paces you and makes you reckon that the critiqued piece is only a step in the large body of works.
Do Your Art
Art must be made for critique to be passed. The crafts man precedes the craftsman. We may even portend that, some critics who have honed and laid claim to their profession, as a form of art, have been caricatured by the craftsman they have studied most. You must not pull back. Every art made is every justified improvement. No one plans for a masterpiece but brave, progressive craftsmen, who have a cultured determined work ethic, make masterpieces. You must show up because the Craftsman and Critic are personalities that are joined to the hip both to the profit of the other. But the one must come first. Art must come first. You do not do art in anticipation of the critic; you do art as evidence that you are alive. As the craftsman encases life in his art, so he also leases the same to the critic. The craftsman surely does birth the critic thus the craftsman must do his art.
Pleasing is a Choice
Every artist eventually does get an audience. The critic is part of the few that places some pinned attention to the work of art, a bit more than the general audience. The critic could easily become a voice. What voice the critic becomes, is entirely at the mercy of the craftsman. There is a sense in which we view the critic as the surgeon and the artist as the patient. This analogy makes the critic the expert and the craftsman the ailing. This is not an accurate assessment. The necessity of the eye of the critic should be shouldered by sensitivity and sobriety. The emotion that art carries is not irrational it can be weighed and judged with both mind and heart. The artist must decide and make a choice which voice to host. The artist must not lease his artistic soul to be the echo chamber of marketplace voices. He must learn how to filter. He must not make art to please the critic. He must make art because it is the right thing to do. Eventually his art becomes an invitation to the critic to lend an eye. But the eye of the critic however important must never be the cornerstone of making art.
Listening is a Choice
Sometimes a critic comes by who cares. A critic who may be harsh but deep down loving one. A critic may be the patron of purpose and if more, a midwife of sorts. We may not all have mentors but some mentors come adorned as critics. When we make art we me often be overtaken by the zeal of making. We may throw ourselves over the head and be baptized with making and may not have space to snorkel out for fresh air. The critic thus must move in and highlight the chocking that shows up in our art that we may have overlooked. A proper critic anticipates us. He not only reads the art but reads the artist too. He paces around us and listens to what we may harbor that is not apparent. He ties his view of our wholesome selves to the art we are producing. When we encounter such a critic, who for anything else have our process in mind we must then listen. But listening is a Choice. It may just be a Choice to Grow.
One of the ways to foster a relationship with our audience is to create and create more. Unless there is a unique eye given to our art, it is very difficult to judge a craftsman from one piece of art. The artist owes it to the audience and himself to create numerous works of art. This is because a body of works soon begins to bud a narrative. A story begins to be told. It is in the story around the artist and his works that we begin to have an eye to judge. Creating is brave. Bringing out art is audacious. Even a shy or introverted artist is justified by what they make. Making is living and living is interacting, making and living foster community and diversity. We must create more in order to allow others to participate in our art substantively. A critic needs to study the trail of your footprints to have a hint of your artistic journey. Invite them through the breadcrumbs of your works. Lure them to your broader vision, because this broad vision is your first real context to be judged fairly. Create and Create More.
Last modified: February 6, 2018